[Caturday Kitty Corner] Favorite Feline Finds

After a lifetime as a self professed cat lady, I figured it was time to start putting my knowledge to good use and imparting some of it onto y’all, my fellow feline fans. Tune in on Caturday I dose out some important cat related content with lots of Catitude. imparting some of my know how onto others that love their cats just as much as I do. So, welcome to the Caturday Kitty Corner – your new go to resource for cat related content, with a dose of Cat-titude

Rat Bros. - Song for Jeremy (Contest Winner #2) Cats.Rule ...

Currently, my husband and I have a troop of five furry friends – Daisy – a Calico, Stella – a Lavender Tabby, Marley – an Orange Tabby, and a duo of Siamese – Loki, who has the traditional pattern, and Lucky – a Lynx Point Siamese Tabby. They’re all different ages, with different likes and temperaments – but one thing they can all agree on: how much they dig the products below.

Favorite Tricks and Tools for the Aspiring Crazy Cat Ladies

Books: The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Whether you’re simply curious, or amassing all possible knowledge about your furry feline friends, Tracie Hotchner has your back. The esteemed host of Cat Chat on Martha Stewart Radio, you’ll get more information than you know what to do with – and that’s kind of the point. No matter if you’re trying to get into your first cat, or are looking to add members to your squad, curious about cat-proofing your home, claw clipping, odd behaviors and different breeds: this is the read for you.

Best Mat for Litter Control: Gorilla Grip Original Premium Durable Cat Litter Mat

Life with cats is pretty simple, when you get down to it – but there is always one conundrum every owner has to face: where the hell do you put the litter box and how do you keep that cat litter from going everywhere? Well, meet your new best friends – these live-saving, litter trapping mats from Gorilla Grip. Phthalate-free, easy to clean, and kind to the touch for your feline friends – the mats come ready to fit to your needs with multiple sizes, colors and different shapes with rectangle, semi-circle and corner pieces.

I defer to the jumbo size for a few different reasons – but mainly: between five cats of our cats and hardwood floors, the tiny litter pebbles would spread through the house like wildfire. Thanks to my trusty new friend from Gorilla Grip, cleaning the mat is as easy as vacuuming for small messes and a quick hose down in the sun for large ones. Trust me – this mat will save your sanity.

Next Level Playtime: YOFUN Smart Interactive Cat Toy 

When a cat wants to zoom, they freakin’ zoom – but you’re not always going to be free when they want to play. Enter your cat’s new electronic best friend – the YOFUN interactive toy. Fully equipped with a little red dot and spazdic motions, the toy is unpredictable and fun for the whole squad. We got two so our cats didn’t have to compete to use it – and currently they’re available for only $12.99

Curb the FeedingFrenzy: Catit Senses 2.0 Digger for Cats

If there’s one piece of advice I can give you about Orange Tabbies, they do not stop eating. Watch – go to Google search, and start typing ‘Why Are Orange Cats…’ and just watch the results roll in. Garfield wasn’t just an awesome cartoon, he was an accurate depiction of the Ginger Tabby Eating Profile. To try and slow our cat Marley down just a little bit, we found this cat-tastic tool from Catit. Instead of your pet being able to free feed on treats and kibble, they’re forced to use that cute little noggin of theirs to figure out how to get the treats out of the green cylinders. Now, the little kitten has figured out all she has to do is bite down on the edge of them and fling the treats in the air, but that’s another story, for another day.

Cat Nip: From the Fields Catnip

There’s nothing quite as fun as when your cats get nippy with it, but at the end of the day – every herb connoisseur knows that you want both quality and quantity with your buds. Our cat favorite in this household comes from the brand From the Field; just one sprinkle and the cats will go crazy. Simple, successful and silly!

Cat Scratcher: PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher

Now, I couldn’t just tell you about the wonders of my favorite cat nip without giving you a good place to put it, right? Enter PetFusion – they’re just one of those companies that simply does everything right

Made of heavy duty cardboard, these cat scratcherswith fun features and sizes like triangles, or multiple platforms with easy access from both sides.

Their cat-scratchers are more or less indestructible (minus the one I sat on and broke…), and the multi-level ones are the best for multi-cat households or just really lavish kitties.

Cat Nail Clippers: Whisker Wishes Veterinarian Grade Pet Clippers

Just like when we need a mani-pedi, your cat also needs to get their claws clipped every so often. Oh, yes, it can be nerve wracking – but thankfully, there’s a few companies who have products that are here to help. My no fuss, no slip go-to are these fantastic veterinary grade clippers from Whisker Wishes.

Being white, they’re easy to find if you misplace them – as I discovered when I lost a black pair a year ago and needed to replace them.. Not only is this model super cute, but even better – they come in at a super low price of only $6.00 on Amazon.

Pet Harness: Voyager Step-in Air Dog Harness from Best Pet Inc

Let’s start by saying: not every cat wants to be outside, and not every cat owner wants to entertain the idea of putting their cat on a leash. If either of those describe your current cat condition, this product is not for you. If not, read on my friends!

For the daring and adventurous cat owners, and cats as well – the Voyager Step-in Air Dog Harness is the best bet. The harness gives ample mobility while ensuring your cat can’t escape – but do yourself a favor and measure your cat before you buy so you go with the purr-fect fit, and at $12.99 you might as well consider this a steal.

Water Fountain: Veken Cat Automatic Water Fountain, 2.5L

Leave it to some random Buzzfeed post to get my goose a few months back, but as I was scrolling through a post devoted to proper presents for your feline friends, I discovered this amazing Veken automatic water fountain. It comes with a plastic mat and a few interchangeable filters, but eventually you’ll need to restock as you have to replace them every once in a while.

It took a few days, and some coaxing from the rest of the squad – but all five cats have been sharing and enjoying the fountain; especially the kitten, Lucky von Floof.

Cat tree: Yaheetech Cat Tree on Amazon

Amazon has a lot of great options to choose from, as in so many options you could actually fall into a hole in the internet as you compare and contrast your options. There are tall trees, wide trees, multi-level trees, trees with hammocks, trees that look like they’re real trees, and of course your run of the mill standard options. I’ve had good luck with what I’ve found, but at the end of the day I’m of the personal opinion that you really need to see them in person to get the full read; I mean, you wouldn’t buy your next apartment or car online, so why should your cat? Anyhow! Your local PetSmart or Pet Club has a bunch of options that fit any pet situation. But some key things to look for: multiple levels is necessary for multiple cats, have a few different scratching options available and make sure the top is big enough to host a furry little slumber party.

To snag any of the items I’ve listed, plus lots more of my favorite feline finds – check out this little list I’ve put together over on Amazon. Anything you think is missing? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy your Caturday, furriends!

Ps. If you’re itching for more cats, give mine a follow on Instagram (yes, they have an Instagram – what did you expect….)

The Squad: @TheKittyMenagerie | The Baby: @Lucky.von.Floof

[Tech Talk] Instagram adds Collage Maker ‘Layout’ to its Arsenal of Apps

If a picture can speak a thousand words, then over the past few years Instagram has become an anthology of the modern personality.  From adorable pictures of animals to decadent, delicious meals, the latest and greatest in fashion and music and let’s not forget the exponential amount of selfies, Instagram has made a monumental name for itself in the world of smart phone applications; doubly so once they were acquired by Facebook.As the iPhone upgraded it’s photo and video services, the application paralleled in kind – offering up Hyperlapse as a keen alternative to the iOS’s native time lapse video recording services. Back when it was rolled out, this was incredibly important since any iPhone TimeLapse would invariably be converted to a real time video once it was loaded into Instagram.

I don’t know about you guys, but between cats and concerts – I happen to use a ton of collages, there a wonderful way to wrap up a weekend, pay your respects to a group of friends or simply embarrass just one on their birthday; and let me tell you, there are a ridiculous amount of applications that simply aren’t as seamless. Just off the top of my head, there’s PicStitch, PicCollage, InstaCollage and my typical go-to PhotoGrid. I’m a huge fan of the PhotoGrid because unlike the others it doesn’t have an irritating watermark, you can pick your pictures before your layout, there’s tons of structured – and free form – grids to choose from and you can adjust the color of the grid itself, using any pigmentation you want – even another image.  In all honesty, it was only a matter of time before Instagram reached out and adjusted for the needs of their market.

For anyone who’s been perusing their iOS App Store as of late, Instagram has added a third application to their photography arsenal just yesterday morning. Introducing Layout – a simple, clean application perfect for any and all of your photo collage-ing needs.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of ‘heart’ or ‘star’ shaped layouts, but it does offer up a tab to just view the pictures with ‘Faces’ on your camera roll and suggests layouts as you select your favorite images. Once you’ve chosen a set layout, you can mirror, rotate, flip, push and pull on your images – showcasing your favorite features and hiding the rest.  So far, the app is only available in the Apple Store, but hopefully it’ll be rolled out to Android soon!

For those of you who haven’t played around with it, let me show you how it all goes down!


Show me some of your collage-creations!

[Get Your Earth Day On]

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

 Kurt Vonnegut

There are currently over 200 Million active users on Instagram and between the lot of us, we load about 60 Million snaps a day, amassing over 20 billion pictures to date; of those 20 Billion, about .2% – or 40 Million – are #selfies,a term that as of last year -not only made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, but was nominated ‘word of the year.’  Last year, the Smart Phone Market overran the PC Market with over 1.75 Billion Smart Phone users in the world, including 56% of Americans –  up from 35% 2 years ago. Of the 1.25  Billion Facebook users, roughly 25% play games on the daily.  Since 2012, the number of Americans streaming digital media like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon has gone from half the population to almost 70%, and digital streaming devices can now be found in 14% of American households; up double from 2011.  Between new developments in gaming systems, social media and technology, it’s become all too easy for the majority of us (including myself) to forget that there’s this amazingly wonderful planet that we have the opportunity to explore. I firmly believe that each day is a new chance to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, and that goes doubly so for today, Earth Day. Today’s a day to be in awe of your surroundings, fully immerse yourself in your environment, and celebrate the beauty that surrounds you – a day to honor your relatives, both ancestors and those to come, by embracing nature and all it has to offer; and I hope more people choose to pay attention to the details and take the time to smell the flowers.  As tied in as I find myself with all things internet – from my addiction to House of Cards to my love of Caturday pictures, I’ve felt an extreme need to detach myself from these chains that masquerade as wifi signals and find some real, personal connection with my surroundings. Back in 1969, a young environmental activist named John McConnell found himself in front of the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, pleading with peers and mentors alike that the world deserves a day to both honor the idea of peace and rejoice in the Earth’s beauty – and the year after, Earth Day was born.  In almost half of a century, the event has manifested from a local, California event into a global masterpiece in over 190 countries.There are ample amounts of Earth Day festivities around the globe that you can take part in, but if you want to do something on a smaller and more personal scale – try these on for size:

  • Ditch your wheels! Head out on foot, with skates, on a bike or with public transportation – did you know that there are some gorgeous smelling flowers just three blocks away from your house? Well, now you do!
  • Shop local and try out the Farmer’s Market around the corner or the Mom and Pop shop on the corner
  • Take a thick book into a lush park and don’t return until you’re halfway done; set your imagination free and leave your cell on silent
  • When you’re with company – do the polite thing and turn off your phone, or as a baby step – try just your mobile network. When you’re with good company; not like you need to see how many likes that rant on Facebook got you while you’re enjoying your surroundings, right?
  • Get off the grid and explore – find a new hike or walk in your neighborhood; activity loves company so call a friend or three and get your endorphins pumping
  • Help record the sound of our planet with Global Soundscapes
  • Replace your mobile gaming with a physical board game – or active sports – and invite some friends over for some friendly in person competition
  • Turn off anything with an electronic pulse and cultivate some creativity; arts and crafts shouldn’t just be for elementary school!

Tech Tuesday: Instagram Web Profile Preview

Instagram Web Profiles Coming Soon!

The camp over at Instagram Headquarters seems to have been hard at work as of late.  After their billion dollar acquisition over the Summer, I think most people with an eye on either company were expecting big changes on the Facebook mobile end of things.  Specifically, a better camera equipped with filters and a more streamlined uploading system.  What I didn’t expect – but adore – is the upcoming addition of accessible web profiles for Instagram pages.

I, for one, am a huge fan of this idea.  When I started using Instagram last April, the only frustrating thing about the mobile app was that there was no clean or simple way to view a users  picture trail.  For the last six months or so, I’ve been using a great website called Statigram.  At the most basic level it organizes your pictures in a simple fashion, adds categories to pictures and lets the user group their followings however they choose.  It’s also much easier to search for people and hashtags compared to the mobile Instagram application.

From the looks of it (see  below), the Instagram web profile is a marriage of Statigram and Facebook. The pictures are organized in precisely the same fashion with the images in chronological order; the newest image  first and then time increases as you wind left and down the page.  All other elements of the profile are almost replicated from Facebook: the header image is eerily similar to the cover photo we’re now used, the user photo is in the same exact place, and the tally of photos, following and followers takes the place of the types of elements in our Facebook profiles (Photos, Friends, etc…).

All in all, I’m a huge fan and can’t wait until my profile is rolled out to me! However, over time I’d think maintaining independent Facebook and Instagram profiles would become fairly redundant – especially when they look so damn similar.  It would only make sense that overtime, our Facebook  Timeline would incorporate our Instagram Web Profile, which would then render it obsolete.

Tech Tuesday: Do You Have Klout?


Venn Diagram of Social Media

In this day and age, it’s become slightly tiresome to stay on top of all the Social Media Trends; there are just so many ways you can connect with people that websites can either become redundant, overwhelming or in the most severe cases – both.  Several of my friends coyly admitted that they’ve become discouraged to use social media because it’s just “too much” for them to want to handle (their words, not mine).  And to a point, I completely agree with them.  How you pick and choose your social networking sites is slightly analogous to picking where to sit at lunch during your first day at a new school; your environment, the information you choose to share and the connections you cultivate are all indicative of this choice.  Each Social Media site that I use has their eerie similarities, but also pronounced differences.

Everyone and their mom’s dog has a Facebook and at a very base level understands the purpose: sharing your life and ideas with a predetermined group of people and one rarely exceeds the 420 character limit of a status update.  With the new “Subscribe” option, one could make their Facebook relatively public – but I know very few non-Celebrities that have ascribed to this.

A website like Path is similar to Facebook with the types of things you can share – music, links, photos – but you’re limited to engaging a group of roughly 150 people. Why this number you ask?  Well, I’ll tell ya – it’s because of Dunbar’s Number, which basically states that the number of people one can maintain a social, stable relationships with is somewhere between 100 and 250, but scholars believe it’s at about 150.

And then there’s Twitter – you can elicit control over your audience by toggling whether you want your page public or private; at a basic level, hink of these two options as either the Facebook option or the Path option.  When public, anyone and everyone can read, and search for, your tweets – while private, your tweets are only seen by a select audience that you allow. Twitter is wonderful for being succinct and witty, but any and all responses are limited to 140 characters.

I love examples, so let’s throw a few out:

Let’s say you want to share a link to an important cause (the upcoming election, Superstorm Sandy, adorable kittens, etc)….

  • Do you have an opinion you’d like to share?  If so, something like Path, a blog like WordPress or Tumblr (or Blogspot…or Xanga…or, well, you get the picture) or Facebook is your best bet. If not, you could simply post your link to Twitter with the title of the article.
  • Do you have an audience that you’re trying to reach (or, avoid)?  If you want the biggest reach, I’d lean towards a public Twitter profile;  if you’re only interested in your pre-existing social circle, go for Facebook; and if you want your post to reach a niche crowd, go for Path.

Let’s say you’re out to eat at an amazeballs restaurant and want to share your meal with your friends…

  • Do you want to post a picture of it?  Then navigate towards Instagram – snap your shot and share away at your leisure.
  • Are you eating with long lost friends? Check the group into Foursquare or Facebook – hell, even post that picture you took with Instagram while you’re at it.
  • Did you have the best time ever and want to tell everyone how ridic the food and service were?  Log into Yelp and write a formal review of your swanky time

When you’re part of one or two sites – it’s fairly easy to understand the entirety of your audience:  if your Twitter account is private and you don’t allow subscribers on Facebook, you have an excellent idea of who your target audience is when you post.  But what if you’re playing a juggling act with social media accounts here there and everywhere?  That’s when you use Klout.  Klout takes someone from a Social Media Queen to the Social Media Queen Bee by aggregating data from a number of measured social networks

When I joined Klout a little over a year ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into – and adding another social media site that was an aggregate of the others seemed more than redundant.  But, what I’ve discovered over time is that Klout is to Social Media what Google Analytics is to Webpages.  By factoring in multiple social networks, Klout’s goal is to discover how many other users are engaged with each and every post you make, regardless of the source.  Your Klout score is between 1 and 100 and takes into consideration two factors: the topics you’re considered influential on and your social network (the people that influence you as well as the people that you influence).

As of today, these are the Social Media Networks that Klout considers relevant (and as a sidenote, I believe because of it – these are also the most important social media sites to be involved with): Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress, Last FM and Flickr; however, they’re currently looking to integrate Quora, Yelp, Posterous, Livefyre, Disqus, Bit.ly and BranchOut.

Last, but most definitely not least, there are perks of being involved with Klout.  Those perks aren’t whimsical, idealistic badges (*cough*foursquare*cough*) – they’re actual, tangible, physical, hold them in your hand and covet them Perks and all because you are considered influential!  Below are some of the wonderful ways Klout has thanked me for being a social media maven and I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to both enjoy and share them.

Argo Premiere with treats, drinks and delectable snacks!

Fair Trade USA & Klout Perk:
Allegro Whole Coffee Beans
Alter Eco Mini Dark Noir (chocolate bar)
Choice Organic Teas Roobios
Coco Cafe Cafe Latte with Coconut Water and Espresso
Honest Tea Half and Half Organic Tea with Lemonade
Lärabar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough food bar
Near East Quinoa Blend Rosemary and Olive Oil
Stash Roobios Tea

Klout Perk from Fit Frappe: Samples of each flavor and a huge container of my choosing. Plus, a jumprope!

[Tech Tuesday] Socially Savvy

Back in the day, way back in elementary school, my 4th grade class was given the amazing gift of AOL.  In 2012, I’m sure this doesn’t seem that awesome but back in 1994 this was the jam. At the time, they had one of their headquarters in Palo Alto, one of the cities in the Silicon Valley that I grew up in, and I was lucky enough to have a classmate with parents who worked there.  They waltzed into our class one day when we sat down for “computer lab”, which meant walking to the left side of the classroom and pairing up with a group of friends in front of a Mac II, and loaded the application onto our computers.  At the time, we used AOL to talk to participants in the Iditarod. We talked them up about their dogs, the history of the event and how goshdarn cold it must have been. At the end of the day, we got to take home a trial version, which found permanent places in all of our hearts.

As I grew up, so did the social aspects internet.

AOL introduced the “Chat Room” shortly after my parents signed up; I spent an exorbitant amount of time IMing old friends, making new ones,  manipulating my user profile and enjoying their integrated news and media feeds. AOL turned into AIM and my friends and I branched out into blogging on sites like Xanga, LiveJournal and DeadJournal.  MySpace and Facebook became public around the same time in 2003; only Facebook was still an elite social endeavor, rolling out first to Ivy League schools in 2003. In September of 2004, the beginning of my sophomore year of college, UCSB was added and I dove in head first. The social video sharing site, Youtube, emerged in 2005 and  Tumblr, one of the best microblogs around, made it’s first appearance in 2007.

Tumblr was, and in my opinion still is, the best of all social worlds – I could add Videos from Youtube, news articles from whatever source I chose, audio files, photographs and regular posts. I jumped on the Tumblr bandwagon immediately; I purged through my old posts, transferring some, removing others and ultimately deleting my other blogs.  In 2008,  I finally deleted MySpace and picked up one fabulous internet addiction after the other; first came Twitter, then the onslaught of Yelp, Instagram, Hypem, Foursquare, Spotify, Pinterest, etc, etc. Now, in 2012, Social media is more about promoting the individual – whether it’s a person, band or product – and less concerned with connecting individuals into a community.  On both Twitter and Facebook, brands have the ability to pay for – or promote– posts to larger audiences. But,it’s hard to argue with these tactics as a consumer, since these ventures are (relatively) free.

Over time, the number of nuanced networking sites have grown exponentially and older sites have gone on missions to rebrand themselves, with hopes of both gaining new demographics and restoring popularity amongst new and former users.  Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where the supply and demand for social networking sites is skewed; when you go and “check in”, do you check in on Facebook? Or do you check in on Foursquare or Yelp and integrate it? As a heavy user, it’s a valid question. The market is more or less over-saturated with social media and it’s forced my generation to pick and choose our battles wisely.

Out of my group of friends, I’d say maybe 5% still use MySpace – and that’s a generous 5%; those that use it primarily go for the music and then don’t find a reason to stay.  But there’s a chance that this could all change!  MySpace has undergone extreme rebranding in attempts to reign users (back) in.  The only question is: with all of the social media ventures that have emerged in the time that MySpace was more or less out of the game, will users care enough to cultivate new interest? If I hadn’t deleted my page, I might be willing to go back – but the idea that I’d have to start from scratch is a major deterrent.

Over in the Tumblr camp, they’re preparing to roll out contact analytics to users come November.  Amongst the tracked metrics are – volume, overall engagement of a post, post performance and reblogging. Currently, it’s in beta – but if you want to get your tumbling little paws in on the action, head over to the Union Metrics website and sign yourself up!

This morning, I was trying to search for a few Twitter friends on Instagram and I was greeted by the following message – “Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API”. Say what?!  Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks because this change was implemented back in August.   The good news is that we’re still able to post our pictures to our Twitter account and applications like Foursquare still have API access, but it raises the question – was Instagram banned from the API because they were bought by, and integrated into, Facebook?  Today also marks the launch of the Twitter User Directory, which was added to the bottom of the home page, letting users and non-users alike earch the Twittersphere.

Tech Tuesday: An App a Day keeps the Doctor Away

I’ve always been an Android lover; in fact, I can’t recall ever wanting an iPhone….granted, I’ve also had Verizon Wireless for my entire life so I didn’t exactly have the option of getting an iPhone when it came out…but, I digress.   I’ve watched the Android market evolve and expand over the past few years, and I’m almost in love with what I’ve seen.  The OS has gotten sleeker, potentially even sexier – if you could call an OS sexy, that is. Though the phones have gotten larger in height x length dimension, they’ve also become thinner, lighter and with better quality resolution on the display.  Not to toot the horn for the HTC Rezound, but beepbeep: it boasts the first HD screen for a carried branded phone in the United States.  How you like them apples, Apple?

Now,  originally – one of the great things about the Android phones is the fact that unlike the iPhone – it contains(-ed) Adobe Flash.  I have to phrase it that way because Adobe has decided to discontinue its use after this November, and has started with devices that have already upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.1  One of the draws of having Flash was that you could view any web page in its full entirety.  But who needs fully supported web browsing when there are so many fantastic  applications for the Droid?!

Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming figuring out which ones you should download. Not to mention, how to handle re-downloading applications after upgrading to a new device. Well, first things first -in the Google Play Store you have the option to view every single application you’ve ever downloaded on your phone.  Simply go to the Play Store, toggle the Menu button (the middle left button on the bottom of your phone) to access the pop-up menu and you’ll have an option at the top called “My Apps“.  Click through and swipe your finger from right to left to see “All Applications.”

The pink oval represents an application that was downloaded in the past, paid for even, yet not reinstalled when I upgraded my phone.  The blue oval is an application that’s currently on my Droid.

Now – onto the fun part, the applications. Some of these are pretty straight forward, especially ones for social media and some deserve a little bit of an explanation. The great thing about the Google Play store, is once your Google account is linked to your phone you can actually pick your applications out online in a more hunt and peck friendly atmosphere, and then send them to download on your phone.  It’s pure genius.

Hit the jump for my should have applications, and anything that is in italic or bold is a “must-have” – enjoy!

Continue reading